The Internship opens with Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson in their convertible, singing loudly along with Alanis Morrisette’s 1995 Grammy-winning song, “Ironic.” In a way, the scene serves as a perfect metaphor for the entire flick’s formula– formerly unique and edgy, now tired and benign, The Internship is a pleasant, though completely unnecessary and ultimately inferior reminder of past greatness.
Billy McMahon (Vince Vaughn) and Nick Campbell (Owen Wilson) are schmoozy, successful retail goods salesmen. With McMahon’s slick talk & Campbell’s Southern charm, the pair have honed their craft over the years to offset one another perfectly; these guys could sell ketchup to women in white gloves. But when Billy and Nick lose their jobs to a new automated ordering system, the two struggle to find work where they can apply their skill set. When Billy finds Nick at his lowest, working at a mattress store owned by his sister’s perverted boyfriend (Will Ferrell, in a cameo almost as good as the one in Wedding Crashers), Billy convinces Nick of the seemingly-impossible: to move to California and pursue an internship with Google, a light bulb idea that Billy came up with while searching the internet for jobs. When Billy and Nick arrive at Google for the internship program, it’s abundantly clear that they are comparative dinosaurs surrounded by whiz-kids and young geniuses, and they will need to utilize their life experience to apply a human element to the competition that their opponents and their binary mindset lack. In the process, they befriend their geek teammates, find love, and bolster their never-give-up attitude on the way to a happy ending.
Yes, it is every bit as sappy and far-fetched as it sounds. And it’s the same fish-out-of-water story that we’ve seen in other Vaughn vehicles like Old School and even Wedding Crashers to an extent. But unlike those movies, the comedy in The Internship rests on its laurels, totally earning its PG-13 rating with nonthreatening humor and ridiculously predictable plot lines. The family-friendly comedy wouldn’t be nearly as frustrating if it wasn’t so self-aware of its own mediocrity. When characters tell Vaughn “You’re saying a lot of words that don’t mean anything,” one can’t help but feel like the writers (Vince Vaughn among them) are saying “we know.”
Though Wilson & Vaughn attack the material with vigor, the majority of the jokes fall flat. Lines like “I thought C++ was a test score!” are about as lazy as it gets in comedy writing, and though watching Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn huddle around a webcam like eagerly ignorant grandparents speaking with their tech-savvy children is mildly humorous, the laughs are just that: mild. It’s difficult to fault the film for not being more memorable since it never aspires to be more than it is: a rehash capitalizing on the obvious chemistry between Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson, set against a 90-minute commercial for Google. It’s a rental.